Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco Sheriff's Office fitness program shows off big weight losers

LAND O'LAKES — It was a photo of himself on Facebook that spurred Deputy Mark Speaker to change.

He was 313 pounds. The buttons on his double-XL shirts strained around his midsection. Describing what he looked like in that picture from Thanksgiving 2011, he held his arms wide around his abdomen.

"It was everything I didn't think I was," he said. "You'll tell yourself, 'Oh, I'm not that bad,' and you are."

Speaker wanted to be in a gym exercising, but at his weight, he was told, he could wrench his joints and strain his tendons. To do even basic routines, he would first have to escape his mass.

He started with a diet. Water instead of soda. Protein in lieu of carbohydrates. He lost 50 pounds before he could go to the gym.

Now he works his different muscle groups at Gold's Gym. In a little over a year, Speaker has shed about 100 pounds. He's down to 207 now. He says it's a start.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said he's looking for that kind of change from more of his deputies. On Jan. 1, the Sheriff's Office began its Health Fitness Initiative. Two weeks in, 300 employees have signed up.

Aside from confronting dangers on the job, law enforcement officers face a higher risk for heart disease and other health problems than people in other professions. Officers tend to be more overweight and take in higher cholesterol, which can strain their bodies, according to a 2009 study reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

"We're a public safety agency," Nocco said. "People expect that we're going to be able to chase somebody down."

Agency members who participate in the voluntary fitness initiative must log 30-minute gym visits three times a week to receive 10 points a week.

At the end of each quarter, members with more than 100 points will get $25 gift cards to places like Target and Outback Steak House.

The Sheriff's Office made deputies available to reporters on Tuesday morning while the deputies worked out in the employee gym at the Land O'Lakes jail. Most had success stories that the sheriff hoped would inspire other agency members.

After his wedding last March, Deputy Chris Wieck, 34, said he was "embarrassed" by photos of himself at 320 pounds. He lost more than 90 pounds working out in the gym and drinking water instead of soda. Now, he said, he can respond quicker to incident calls in the jail corridors and catch his breath when he arrives. And at home, he can play football with his children.

Alex Orlando can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco Sheriff's Office fitness program shows off big weight losers 01/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)
  2. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

    Chris Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his past five starts. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]